Lions seventh-rounder Willie Young a keeper


Terry Foster/ The Detroit News

Allen Park— Chances are, Willie Young is spending most of his free weekend fishing from a dock off the coast of Florida.

He’ll take his catch home, fry it up for his family and relax.

“I love all kinds of fishing, and when I am free, that is what I love to do,” the Lions defensive end said. “I want to find some fishing holes up there in Michigan.”

Off the field, Young is low-key, searching for the perfect fishing spot.

On the field, he’s confident and excitable.

Young throws his hair back into a ponytail and sports a look of indignation. Young, a seventh-round draft pick in 2010 (213th overall), compiled 20.5 career sacks and 45 tackles for loss (second in school history) at North Carolina State.

But at 6-foot-5 and 251 pounds, he’s built more like a basketball player.

“I ain’t no seventh-round pick,” Young said.

And he’s showing that.

This season, the backup defensive end has 10 tackles and two sacks.

“I don’t feel like I am out of place,” Young said. “I’ve always felt I was in place. I just had to adjust to the business side of things, and once I did that, it has been smooth sailing.”

Hungry on the field

Teammate Corey Williams is one of Young’s biggest boosters and role models.

“All this first round, second round, sixth round, that don’t mean nothing,” Williams said. “If you’ve got the heart to get out there, you belong. Look at how many guys were picked in the first round and were busts. Look how many picked in the first round are not even in the league.

“When you are picked low it doesn’t do anything but make you more hungry. You got to go out and grind it out.”

Young grew up in Riviera Beach, Fla., where it was a challenge every day.

“I come from nothing where nothing was given to me,” said Young, adding that his parents were strict. “When I was growing up I was always hungry. I always wanted more and I took nothing for granted.”

That determination is what continues to drive Young today.

And it doesn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.

“The young man’s got a lot of potential,” Williams said. “I don’t think he realizes what type of potential he has. Once he settles down and relaxes and lets the game come to him, he is going to make a lot of money in this league. It is hard to find somebody built like that who can get off the ball and play the run and the pass like that. He is special.”

If nothing else, Young is confident.

He admits he needs to improve on his game but also says: “I have no weaknesses.”

‘He is an exciting player’

As a rookie, Young played in two games, but impressed coaches with his energy and length.

This season, he’s making an impact, providing depth on the rush edge.

“He is a different guy mentally,” defensive end Cliff Avril said. “Once he understood this was a business as well as a game and he got serious, that is when he started to be a whole different guy. It is great to see him being successful.”

Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh also has been impressed with Young’s maturity and ability.

“He is always productive, and he is always ready when he gets out there,” Suh said. “He is an exciting player and makes plays and it is exciting to see him play as he has come into a huge spotlight.”

But right now, Young is just enjoying life.

“I am riding the wave right now,” he said. “I don’t think it has really hit me that I am in the league now.”

terry.foster@detnews.com

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Terry Foster: NFL lockout’s fine with us — just don’t dare miss a game


Terry Foster

The reality of an NFL lockout hit full force Monday when I saw Lions kicker Jason Hanson at the drinking fountain at my local Life Time Fitness.

He was doing mostly weight training on a slow Monday morning in the gym.

He’s got nowhere to train because he is not allowed inside the Lions practice facility and cannot talk to coaches and the training staff. The king of sports is shut down. It just hasn’t hit home for the rest of us because we have not missed one game, one hit or another Lions loss.

We haven’t gathered around the water cooler on a Monday morning second-guessing coach Jim Schwartz or wondering if Matthew Stafford will last the season. Everything seems status quo outside of those clips we saw a few weeks ago of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and New England quarterback Tom Brady walking down the street before and after negotiations.

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The NFL now is a 365-day-a-year league. The draft is scheduled as normal, beginning two weeks from this Thursday. The draft guides are out. Fans are discussing who the Lions should take with the 13th pick and even the top collegiate athletes will walk across the stage, shake commissioner Roger Goodell’s hand, and wear a cap of the team that selected them.

After that, the league will roll into bubble wrap unless a deal is hammered out.

ESPN is reporting that a judge will impose forced mediation on the NFLPA and the NFL. The two sides both agree that more mediation is necessary, but they cannot even agree where to have it.

I won’t bore you with the details because I get the feeling the public doesn’t really care. ESPN provided wall-to-wall coverage and I admit I often turned the channel midway through it. Now when I see lockout news, I just shut it off.

This is April, not August when training camp begins. Players will miss some OTAs and will be forced to work out with you and me. So what? It just doesn’t hit home yet with the public with what is going on.

For players, it does. Hanson said most of the players he talks to are trying to maintain things now, but at some point they will need to find trainers to push them further. Some guys have returned home while others have found workout partners in the Detroit area.

This whole thing seems ridiculous. The owners are not losing money. The players are not going broke. And the league is the most prosperous in our country. I still am trying to figure out what the point of this lockout is. What you have is a few hundred people trying to figure out how to slice up a multi-billion dollar pie.

Meanwhile, the people who really will get hurt are the little guys trying to hammer out a minimum-wage salary. The people who work concessions and show us to our seats need that money. Sunday’s are always a great source of business for the bars and restaurants in Detroit who need every high-ticket day they can get.

It might just be eight dates, but NFL gameday packs a huge punch that can make a place profitable for the week.

These are the people I think about.

It was great seeing Hanson on Monday but I don’t want to see him in my gym. Get out.

There is plenty of room for him, but he belongs in Allen Park with the rest of the Lions.

terry.foster@detnews.com